👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ Stormy Daniels filed a new lawsuit against her former attorney and Michael Cohen, saying the two men “colluded” and “acted in concert” to “manipulate” her in order to benefit Trump. The lawsuit alleges that as a part of the effort to deny Trump’s affair with Daniels, her former attorney, Keith Davidson, and Cohen “hatched a plan to have Ms. Clifford appear on Mr. Sean Hannity’s program to falsely deny the accuracy of the In Touch article” in January. In Touch magazine published excerpts from its 2011 interview with Daniels in which she said she had an affair with Trump starting in 2006. It was revealed in April that Cohen also represents Hannity. Daniels’ current attorney, Michael Avenatti, called the private messages evidence that “prior denials by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen relating to what Mr. Trump knew, and about the honesty of my client, were absolute lies,” adding that “there was a significant cover-up here as part of an attempt to deceive the American people and Mrs. Trump and we intend on getting to the bottom of it.” (New York Times / NBC News / CNN)
2/ Ivanka Trump connected Michael Cohen with a Russian who offered to introduce Trump to Putin during the campaign in 2015 in order to facilitate a 100-story Trump Tower in Moscow. Mueller’s team and congressional investigators have reviewed emails and questioned witnesses about the interaction. There is no evidence that Ivanka’s contact with former Olympic weightlifter Dmitry Klokov was illegal or election related. (BuzzFeed News)
3/ Robert Mueller requested that witnesses turn in their personal phones so investigators can inspect their encrypted messages on WhatsApp, Confide, Signal and Dust. The revelation comes as the special counsel filed a claim that Paul Manafort tampered with witnesses through the same types of programs. (CNBC)
4/ Giuliani claimed Mueller’s team is “trying very, very hard to frame [Trump] to get him in trouble when he hasn’t done anything wrong.” He added that Mueller’s team “can’t emotionally come to grips with the fact that this whole thing with Russian collusion didn’t happen. They are trying to invent theories of obstruction of justice.” Giuliani also reiterated the claim that Trump has the power to pardon himself, but won’t do so because “he’s innocent” and “he hasn’t done anything wrong.” (Associated Press)
5/ Paul Ryan agreed that there is “no evidence” to support claims that the FBI spied on Trump’s 2016 campaign for political purposes by using a confidential informant to contact members of the campaign while investigating its ties to Russia. Ryan added that Trump should not try to pardon himself, saying, “I don’t know the technical answer to that question, but I think obviously the answer is he shouldn’t. And no one is above the law.” (New York Times / Politico)
The Justice Department’s internal watchdog has concluded that James Comey defied authority while FBI director and was “insubordinate” at times. (ABC News)
Mexico imposed new tariffs on roughly $3 billion worth of American pork, steel, cheese, and other goods in response to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, complicating efforts to renegotiate NAFTA with Mexico and Canada. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the president’s “preference now, and he asked me to convey this, is to actually negotiate with Mexico and Canada separately.” (New York Times)
Facebook has had data-sharing agreements with at least four Chinese electronics companies since 2010, including Huawei, which has close ties to the Chinese government and was flagged by U.S. intelligence agencies as a national security threat. The partnerships with Huawei, Lenovo, Oppo and TCL are all still active, but Facebook says it plans to wind down the deal with Huawei by the end of the week. (New York Times)
More than 118,000 California primary voters were left off the voter rolls due to a random printing error. Those voters can still cast provisional ballots, but the process of counting and verifying a large number of provisional ballots could delay the vote tally in some local races. “We apologize for the inconvenience and concern this has caused,” said the Los Angeles County Clerk in a statement. “Voters should be assured their vote will be counted.” (CNN / Politico)
Trump commuted Alice Marie Johnson’s life sentence for a nonviolent drug crime after meeting with Kim Kardashian last week to discuss the case. A White House official said Trump is “obsessed” with his power to pardon people, describing pardons as Trump’s new “favorite thing” to talk about. The administration has prepared the pardoning paperwork for at least 30 people. (Washington Post / CNN / Associated Press)
Scott Pruitt’s top aide resigned from the EPA shortly after portions of her House Oversight Committee testimony were made public in which she says regularly did personal tasks for Pruitt. Millan Hupp for Pruitt in Oklahoma before joining him in Washington. (The Atlantic)
Jeff Sessions defended the Trump administration policy of separating migrant children from their families when they arrive at the southern U.S. border. “If people don’t want to be separated from their children, they should not bring them with them,” Sessions said. “We’ve got to get this message out. You’re not given immunity.” (Washington Post)
The Trump communications aide who mocked John McCain’s deteriorating health has left the White House. The White House said Kelly Sadler is “no longer employed within the executive office of the president,” but two people familiar with Sadler’s departure said she was not fired because of her comments about McCain. Instead, they suggested that Sadler was pushed out for accusing her boss, White House strategic communications director Mercedes Schlapp, of leaking her McCain comments to the press. (New York Times / CNN)
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